A couple of kilometres outside the Frisian coast, the famous casemates of Kornwerderzand are located on the Afsluitdijk. This is the only place in Europe where the German Blitzkrieg was stopped in May 1940. Just 225 Dutch soldiers held around 17,000 Germans at bay here. This cycling route will take you along Stelling Wons and Stelling Kornwerderzand.
The construction of the Afsluitdijk rendered the navy base in Den Helder and Vesting Holland vulnerable to an attack by land from the (north)east. To protect 'Vesting Holland', the Ministry of War wanted to install extra fortifications on the Afsluitdijk near the locks. This is why the fortifications, the casemates, were built in both Kornwerderzand and Den Oever.
The design was made by the Genie (military engineers) and consists of spread-out casemates, each with a separate function. In front of the fortifications on the Afsluitdijk, Stelling Wons was located on the Frisian mainland. This fortification stretched all the way from the southern edge of Makkum along the Melkvaart, the eastern border of Wons and along the Gooiumervaart to the eastern border of Zurich. Its total length was about 7 kilometres. Stelling Wons consisted of simple field fortifications made of wood and soil. In May, the Germans had to make it past both fortifications in order to occupy the Afsluitdijk. Stelling Wons fell, but Stelling Kornwerderzand stood its ground - as the only one of the Dutch defence lines - until the surrender.
The Casemates Museum is now located in Kornwerderzand. To get there, you have to cycle a bit onto the Afsluitdijk between hubs 52 and 59 until you reach Kornwerderzand.